When the National League for Democracy took office in Myanmar in April, many activists, journalists and civil society groups hoped the change to a democratic government would mark a turning point for freedom of expression, following decades of repressive army rule.
Some 10 months later, however, the government of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has made little progress in strengthening freedom of expression, according to activists, who warn it has failed to prevent a sharp rise in the number of arrests for online defamation.
The government has not shown enough commitment to improve freedom of expression, said Myo Myint Nyein, a magazine editor and former political prisoner who chairs the Myanmar chapter of PEN, an international writers' advocacy group.
The spike in online defamation charges under the 2013 Telecommunications Law has become particularly worrying, he said, adding, "Digital freedom is worse." PEN and other civil society groups are calling on the NLD to urgently change the law.
"The NLD have moved slowly to repeal or amend laws that limit free expression...but should be given credit for repealing a few abusive laws," said David Mathieson, Myanmar researcher for Human Rights Watch.